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Vintage 2014: Veraison

While we enjoyed a much needed vacation something was happening here in Napa. The very start of Veraison came about while we were gone. We also had some fire issues in the Northeastern part of the county so I’m hoping we don’t see any smoke taint in the reds this year like we did in Sonoma in 2008. This picture was taken the day we came back on July 3rd and is the table grape in my back yard a full 2.5 weeks early!


I knew I needed to get out and see what was happening in the vineyards and sure enough, I saw the flowing picture walking into the winery last Monday.



That is Cabernet Sauvignon at To Kalon. Granted that these are young vines planted in in 2011 so they are ahead of the average vine this year, but the general progression is moving very rapidly. Pinot Noir in Carneros is moving right along as well with
some blocks well through 50% Veraison. Right now it looks like mid August for the start of harvest. It’s coming on fast!

Unfulfilled Post Ideas from the Past Three Weeks!

Normally I don’t write many posts due to having no inspired thing to write about. The past few weeks I have had a TON of ideas but no time to write. Instead, I have decided to put some of them down to a single post and if anyone is very interested in one of them I’ll fill that thought out.

1) Harvest Update- we are about 10-18 days away from bloom! This is incredibly early and the weather over the next three weeks will go very far towards setting the tone of this harvest. Minimal frost to date as well for such a early harvest so things are going well so far.

2) Why is it not possible to find a family friendly restaurant with good food? Do foodie parents of young children not need good food outside of Napa? Maybe that makes me a snob but a recent weekend vacation to Monterrey, CA really opened my eyes to how spoiled we are here. Our favorite (pre-child) restaurant which shall remain nameless for this post had a sign posted outside. “No strollers, no small children!” Really? I’m tempted to never go back even after my son is grown just because we felt so discriminated against. We settled for a very kid friendly restaurant that used too much salt and baked fish in white wine sauce included a carton of cream and a stick (at least) of butter completely negating my healthy choice of the fish in the first place. The second night we were directed by the hotel concierge to another restaurant where the serving of lasagna I ordered could have easily fed a small village. Can some chef with kids do something about this travesty???

3) Almost 6 weeks to go until my MW exam. I’m busily tweaking my answer style, doing timed tastings and re writing answers from previous exams. I look back over the past 4 exams I’ve sat and I can almost tell where I went wrong on some of the wines. I remember how they tasted to me and my thought process. I can’t believe I went Germany instead of Alsace on a set of three wines, two of which were so clearly Gewürztraminer and Riesling. Why didn’t I just say Chardonnay on the last wine on Paper 1 last year. It certainly tasted like Chardonnay but I talked myself out of it since I thought I had found a set of Chardonnays earlier in the exam. I hadn’t and ended up getting three wines wrong all because I over thought the exam. This year my plan is to not over think, don’t second guess, relax and show the examiners that I do, actually know this stuff! Wish me luck!


Thoughts That Only Go Through the Heads of MW Students

In my pursuit if one of the rarest and most difficult certifications in the world of wine, very often I am struck by the absurdity of some of my thoughts if I wasn’t totally engrossed in my Practical exam studies. I’ve decided to share some below that I’ve experienced but feel free to add others from your studies.

“Don’t go down the Riesling road, Don’t go down the Riesling road!”
- 4 wines, Same variety question, all white, different countries. Upon sensing a slight bit of Petrol on wine 1.

“Am I going to look like an idiot if I funnel Italy here?” – Trying to funnel possible old world origins of Bordeaux varieties when it is obviously Bordeaux.

“Which one has the screaming acid?” – when presented with 2 or more dubious brown colored wines with high alcohol.

“What’s the best justification between Colchagua and Maipo here?” – After getting to Chile justifying the origin “as closely as possible.”

” Ah ha! Bug spray!” – on my personal marker for Torrontez

“Just start writing SOMETHING!” – my thought during the exam in 2013 Paper 1 which contained 12 wines that were all frustratingly neutral

“I LOVE White Zin!” – upon finding a white Zinfandel on any blind tasting I’ve ever done! It’s so easy to pick out.

“I hope people don’t think I actually drink all these!” – On the number of open wine bottles at any given point in my kitchen.


This was NOT a staged photo as evidenced by the super messy counter and yes that IS 15 bottles on my counter.

You might be a Master of Wine student if….
- You have ever had an in depth serious conversation regarding the pros and cons of different pen designs.
- You’ve ever said “Bring it” in response to someone offering to pour you a blind wine.
- Friends and your mentors are randomly sending you tasting notes via email with no other correspondence as if to say “You know what to do.”
- Your family asks “Where are you tasting this weekend?” rather than “What are your plans this weekend.”
- You know the statistical frequency of any main variety that has shown up on the exam.
- The results of a practice exam can either make or break your mood for the week.
and lastly, if your life has been utterly taken over by the exam and you wonder what you will find to do with all this time once you pass.

Please add your own thoughts in the comment sections! Crazy loves company!